Don’t be deterred by winds
  |  First Published: August 2009

The trademark southeasterly winds have finally arrived as high-pressure systems begin to back up one after the other. Up until late July we experienced a dream run of weather with mostly picture perfect, postcard days on offer. Now it’s a matter of waiting for windows of opportunity before heading offshore.

When the winds are up it forces a change of tactics. With bigger boats and better technology people are possessed to head further offshore to the outer reef but anglers overlook the thriving fishery along our coast, within minutes of many boat ramps.

Fishing closer to home along many of the coastal reef systems will also produce doggie, grey and Spanish mackerel, small-mouth nannygai, fingermark, stripeys, sweetlip and coral and island trout. And the reefs are a great place to shelter from the winds.

To fish that little bit deeper the low tide is best, as the water level drops below a lot of reefs, reducing the swell. Fishing on a high tide in deep water on a day when the wind is howling is next to impossible and dragging the anchor is a common problem.

Another option is to troll lures for your quarry as you can steer the boat through the calmer passages as opposed to sitting there like a bobbing cork and getting smashed by the elements. Trolling lures in the shallows will put you in the vicinity of coral trout, trevally and long-nose emperor. For mackerel species troll in deeper water.

The offshore breeze in the early mornings can provide calmer conditions, which may give a few hours of reasonable conditions before the wind swings from the south.

The winds also create dirty water in our rivers and estuaries, which makes fishing a bit tougher than usual. However species like javelin fish revel in these conditions, especially across the flats.

Live bait and fresh strips of mullet are still enticing good sized fish up to 55cm. GT up to several kilos are also partial to these baits on a sweeping incoming tide. Trevally and queenfish are being caught further upstream on the bigger tides and are working the bait schools in the deeper holes. Live bait and lures cast in the deeper holes will produce fish.

Barra are still amongst the snags but are feeding very sporadically. If hooked they’re sluggish coming to the boat with very little fight. A live bait dangled in front of their nose may be enough to make the barra lash out.

There are a few reasonable mangrove jacks being caught, but jacks, as well as the fingermark in the deeper sections of the river, are best suited to warmer weather. In September both species should improve dramatically as the water temperature begins to rise.

On the calmer days there have been reports of school mackerel and golden trevally in rivers, in particular up on the Daintree River. There has also been positive signs of mackerel a bit further north this year, but you do need calm weather to explore these claims.

If the southeasterlies maintain momentum fishing closer to shore will be the best option, but hopefully September lives up to its reputation as the month when the seas begin to settle down.

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